March 9th, 2013

New York, NY

The Helix Center for Interdisciplinary Research, New York Psychoanalytic Society Meeting

with Professors Paul Glimcher and Joseph Ledoux of NYU, Professor Linda Keen of CUNY, and Dr. David Lichtenstein

Graciela Chichilnisky – Presentation

Presentation Description

How do emotions color and shape our actions? How do we decide to take action in the midst of fear for our own lives–go to war, fight an intruder, save a person falling on subway tracks–or to ward off catastrophes such as global climate change and the irreversible loss of species that could lead to the extinction of our own species? This roundtable will focus on the role of fear in the valuation of life, and on how we respond to rare but extreme risk. Catastrophic circumstances inspire extreme fear, and this alters cognitive processes and behaviors deemed rational choices under more ordinary circumstances. Studying human responses to fear can broaden our very understanding of what constitutes rational choice. A branch of mathematics called Topology holds the trump card: it leads to new ways to understand rationality in a larger context to include ambiguity and apparent contradictions that emerge in all logical systems—a universal law that was discovered by Kurt Gödel last century and analyzed by Bertrand Russell. The roundtable discussion will bring to bear economic, neuroscientific, psychological, and other perspectives on fear, and topology as a geometric tool to help us visualize and update the concept of rationality and make it appropriate for our complex, ever changing, and challenging world.

Event Program

Presentations from the Event: